Category Archives: Blogging

The GASP/Akismet Experiment

It’s not often I do an experiment based on a post I read on another blog but I decided it was time to give one a shot. In this case it was based on a post that our friend Ileane wrote (yes, she actually does sometimes write posts on here blog lol) titled 5 Popular WordPress Plugins You Need to Ditch Now! One of the plugins she talked about ditching was Akismet, which I’ve always kind of had a love affair with, and thus I had to confront her, nicely of course, about the recommendation.

Has the NSA spying gone too far?
greg lilly via Compfight

(Growmap Anti-Spybot Plugin) would get the whole job done without Akismet help. It was developed by Andy Bailey of CommentLuv fame who, interestingly enough, said in an interview I did with him in 2009 that most plugin developers shouldn’t start off by trying to go after Akismet, and years later that’s exactly what he did. 🙂 I wasn’t really sure about it, but I told her I was going to experiment and write about it; this is that post.

A brief bit of history for the uninitiated. There have been a lot of people that have complained that Akismet does two negative things. It can put people on a negative list and thus always have every post of theirs showing up in spam or even being deleted before it ever reaches the spam filter. I’ve always said I had never noticed it and thus it didn’t impact me, but then Gail Gardner of Growmap did an extensive test last year on it and found that some of these issues might be true.

I still dismissed it because Akismet has always done a premium job for me, so it seemed. But I was compelled to do this experiment, and here’s what I’ve kind of come up with.

First, this week I’ve had less spam showing up in my spam filter than ever before. That’s both a good and bad thing mentally because often I had legitimate comments showing up in the spam filter, and over the past week I’ve only had one show up. I don’t know if this means it’s deleting legitimate people who it thinks is a spambot or if this week most of the people that comment have gotten it right.

Second, once I started the experiment I checked the box to allow trackbacks because I wanted to see how it handled them. I did get a lot of those in two days showing up in the spam filter, but not a single legitimate trackback so I turned it back off quickly enough. No trackbacks since.

Third, let me mention the spam filter. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I turned off Akismet and spam came in, but bad messages will still go to the spam filter, so that’s a good thing.

Fourth, if you saw my post about my comments problem you’ll see that I emptied a large folder through PhpMyAdmin that was holding all these statistics from my Count Per Day plugin, which I’ve also inactivated. When I went back I noticed my second largest file was something called wp_commentmeta, and it turns out that’s the file of everything that Akismet collects on comments it’s passed through and denied. Supposedly the WordPress program is supposed to empty that sucker here and there, but mine had never emptied over the years. Since I’d inactivated the plugin I was also able to empty that folder, and now I have so much capacity I feel like I need to start writing more. lol Yes, you can empty that folder safely, even if you’re still using it. And it seems there’s no files being created or filled up by GASP (which I’m still trying to figure out how I got ranked #1 on Google for ‘GASP anti-spybot’).

In my opinion, the GASP plugin has provided some peace overall to this blog, and that’s not a bad thing. I think I’m going to keep things as they are until I see there’s a reason to activate Akismet again, which I’m kind of doubting. And I’m going to do it on my other blogs as well. See, I can learn something from others. lol
 

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Post #1,100; What’s Next?

Wow, I’ve reached post #1,100; I guess I have shown that I can continue writing stuff after all. 🙂 And since I changed up how I talk about these milestones last time, I’ll continue with some changes, but no video this time around.

Let’s talk about the past almost 5 months. This is the longest it’s taken me to get through 100 posts. I have to admit that I did it on purpose after thinking a little bit.

In the days just before that 1,000th post I had written my pillar post on Better Blogging, which I turned into 2 posts, and decided to give it a little bit of space since each of them was pretty long. I started thinking that I often write some fairly long posts, and that it might take people a day or two to get through them, if they read them at all. Then I started thinking that it wouldn’t hurt every once in awhile to put some space between posts as compared to writing something every single day.

So I started doing that, and initially my visit numbers dropped. But eventually those numbers started to increase as folks realized they now had time to comment on more than one post because they weren’t being bombarded by too many posts at once. Still, since it didn’t take me 180 days to write 100 posts, it means that I still had enough posts that came daily. But the mix is better and truthfully, the pressure’s off in having to have a daily post here.

And there were some outside things as well. My finance blog has started generating income, and that’s not a bad thing. But it takes management time, and though I accept guest posts on that blog, I have my own personal rule that says I won’t have 2 guest posts in a row. I’ve also worked on upping the frequency of my business blog, which I felt was important because I write a lot of posts on leadership topics and one can’t be a leader if one isn’t visible.

Overall I’ve stayed true to my supposed mission here. I wrote 23 posts within the category of blogging, 23, and social media, 13. The rest were a nice mixture of topics, and that’s what I have always hoped to do. With some of those social media posts moving to the new blog, that might decline, but you never know. My main goal for this blog has always been about entertaining and educating folks whenever I can.

It’s never really been about making money here, even though I have my books that I’m promoting and a couple of banners here and there. I’ve removed most of them, though, but I’m not promising I won’t have advertisements on this page, as I was contacted by someone recently that wanted to advertise here; I just didn’t think what they wanted to advertise really fit this blog. However, I’m not above making money; y’all know that. 🙂

A couple more things about the last 100 posts. It was gratifying to see that my post highlighting 21 Top Black Social Media Influencers was in the top 5 of my posts for visitors during this period. It was the only post written during the period that made the top 10, and only 3 posts during the period made the top 20, with the other two being Why’s It Hard To Trust People and Finish Line Steals My Money Then Cancels My Account; yeah, I busted on some affiliates this past period and it’s left me wondering about the state of affiliate marketing.

What’s my expectation in the next 100 posts? I’ll probably continue writing the same types of things I’ve been writing about for the most part. I will be trying to drive more traffic to my other websites, though, and I will be trying to generate more income. I will probably talk more about the concepts of blogging and money, but this won’t become a “make money” blog because I don’t believe anyone can really write about that subject unless they’re making money at it, and I mean more than the little bit I’m making now. I will continue calling things as I see them and motivating folks to be the best they can be. And I will add more videos, since some of you asked for them and I realized I only had one in the last 100 posts; shame on me.

I hope you continue visiting this blog, I hope you visit my other blogs,and I hope we all make it to the top together. Thanks for reading.
 

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Responding To Comments… Sigh…

Sometimes it seems like I spend a lot of time writing about the importance of two things regarding blogs; writing good comments and responding to comments. Sometimes it seems like a great cause; sometimes it seems like a lost cause.

Good comments help everyone. They help the writer because the writer knows you understood their words. It helps other people who see your comments because it gives them something to think about as well, and encourages them to comment. And it helps you, the commenter, because you not only show people you have something to say, but of course there’s that all important link back to your site.

Responding to comments helps as well. It shows you’re engaged in the process with others. It shows you honor what they have to say. It shows that you didn’t just pop something up and move on to the next story. And it helps to show that you also know what you’re talking about, in case someone thinks you had another person writing your content; not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😉

Sadly, it seems the lessons aren’t taking very well. It seems that myself and Sire are beating our heads against the wall. I mean, even on posts where we talk about the importance of leaving good comments we get horrible comments. That’s just a shame.

Every once in awhile you have an epiphany, of sorts. I’ve got one now; actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days. I’ve decided that I’m not responding to every comment anymore. I have a comment policy that I thought would handle everything; seems that was a wishful panacea.

Maybe the problem is just that some people really don’t understand the concept of what a good or bad comment is. Maybe they don’t understand that punctuation is a big part of writing a good comment. Capitalization, spacing between sentences after a period, not forgetting to include words to finish a thought in a sentence… what, they don’t teach grammar anywhere anymore?

So it’s time to make a stand; actually, three stands.

One, if your comment is borderline and doesn’t help advance the topic, I won’t be responding to it. Most probably you don’t care if that’s the type of comment you’ve left, but I’m stating it for the world.

Two, from this point on, if I see that the image and name and email address somehow don’t fit, I’m either removing the comment or the link. If your name is “Sue” and your avatar is a pretty woman but your email name says “John”, that’s a red flag; not having it. For that matter, if I see a “John” but your email address says “Bob”, or something like that, I’m doing the same thing. That is, unless I know you or at some point you prove to me you’re real and have a reason for doing it (because I know a lot of folks in other countries will give you a different name than their own because of translation issues).

And three, if I see multiple messages from the same website under different names, all of them will be pulled from this point on. Not specifically picking on them, but there’s some site called travel.wisconsin.us that may or may not be legit that sometimes leaves multiple messages on different blog posts but each one has a different person’s name and a different person’s email address. Some comments look legit, some don’t, but often they come at the same time so I’m treating them as spam. They’re not the only one, only the most recent.

Of course, once I know you and we’ve established a rapport of sorts, I go more lenient. After all, I know that some posts don’t offer up a good opportunity for a great comment. But I think I give a lot here; not only a lot of pretty good information but everyone gets a dofollow link, and I don’t make anyone register so you get your 10 choices for CommentLuv.

I have time issues as well but I think it’s more important to work towards having a good community standard; am I wrong on this?
 

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Non-Blogging Folks Ain’t Gonna Budge

Often I talk on this blog about this concept of influence. I talk about how important it is to try to attain influence because influence ends up helping you achieve many goals you can’t attain without it. Influence is money; influence is power. Influence makes you a player in the game; that is, if you want to be a player in the game.

I have worked on trying to bridge the gap between my perceived online influence and the lack thereof of any type of offline influence. I’ve tried in some ways to merge the two because I’m of a mind that they can and possibly should be merged in some way. I mean, I know the power of social media and have experienced some of it first hand; I also know that social media means nothing to certain people, even if they’re somewhat in it themselves, unless you bring it to them in a way they just can’t ignore.

Okay, I’ve set up the premise; now on with some details.

I have talked about a few local tweetups and other local events that have taken place locally. Whenever I write those stories, I’ve also highlighted many of the people who participated; at least as many as I can remember, which most of the time is almost everyone. I’ve done that for a few reasons.

One, most people love seeing their names as part of a story. Two, those folks have something to offer, so it’s a way to promote them in some fashion as well. And three, because one would think that if people saw their names in a story they might actually comment, give thanks, share their piece of the story I wrote about in some fashion… participate.

Folks, that just doesn’t happen. Pretty much like writing about your spouse in a blog post, if people aren’t predisposed to read and comment on blogs you just can’t do anything to get them to do it.

For instance, I wrote a recent story on my local blog about a kickball tweetup we had at one of our local lakes. I mentioned a lot of people in that post. I made sure everyone that played saw it because I posted the link on Twitter and sent some of them the story directly. There’s only one comment other than my response on that post, and it was from my friend Scott, who wasn’t even at the game. No one cared that they were in a story; no one wanted to contribute at all. Sure, on Twitter some of them said “thanks”, but that’s it.

In January I wrote about a different tweetup, one that turned out badly in my opinion, and I named names on that one as well. On that post, one person did respond to the gripe, while a couple others decided to write me direct messages on Twitter instead of open themselves up on the blog; in that case I better understood, but that post at least got comments.

However, another post I wrote some weeks back did garner a lot of attention. That was the one on 21 Top Black Social Media Influencers. That one got a lot of pop, and most of the people mentioned in that one commented here. Thing is, most of the people that commented were true social media people, which means bloggers for the most part, true bloggers. These were people who understood that it’s not just enough to say you write a blog, but that you also have to participate in the process in order to be, well, a top social media influencer. And a lot of other people also got into the game; that was nice.

To me, I think a major point has been proven, but one is still out there in a fashion. One, you’re just not going to get people who aren’t really bloggers, or “true” social media people, to contribute to the process of a blog, no matter what you do. Two, you may still be able to at least reach them and get them to see what you’ve done, even if you get no real feedback from it.

Which one is more important? I’m not sure there’s an easy or single answer for that one. I’m going to say “it depends”, kind of a wishy-washy response, then ask you what you think about it all. I mean, is it worth trying to bring those folks into the fray, or just forgetting about them and sticking to the community in general, maybe every once in awhile causing an itch in someone not really into the blogging game and garnering a momentary interest in what you have to say before going back to whatever they deem more important?

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10 Things People Do Wrong Concerning Blogs

Often when I write one of these types of posts it seems like I’m picking on one particular group of some kind. Today this is a little bit different. I’m picking on a group, but the group isn’t as specified except for one thing; it concerns blogs. And it’s what I see “people”, and when you see what I’ve written you’ll understand why I went that route, doing, well, wrong, or badly, or whatever; just not good. lol Here we go.

1. If you’re not trying to live what you write about then you’re wasting your time blogging. Now, that sounds harsh, but I’ll tell you what I mean. Right now, if you look to the right of this post you’ll see a post I wrote on my business blog about “trust leadership”. In that post I highlight 9 blogs I visited on Sunday. I found it interesting that all of those blogs talked about leadership in some fashion, some of them talked about building trust, yet 8 of them moderate comments, one of them adding captcha to the mix. To me you reap what you sow, and if you’re telling people up front that you don’t trust them, then why should they trust your content?

2. Your blog platform is, well, lousy. Of course this is just my belief, and for once I’m not talking about different commenting systems. Lately I see a proliferation of blogs on places such as Typepad, Tumblr, and other sites like these. I don’t count these as regular blogging platforms, although I know the Typepad people will say it is. Any platform that begins by pretty much telling me if I don’t sign into it you’re not going to honor things from outside such as Gravatar, and that you’re not going to send me messages if I comment unless I sign in (I’m not talking about a different comment system, but in this case it’s a part of the site) then it’s a lousy platform. As for Tumblr, it seems to be set up for instant messaging thoughts; in other words, you’re thinking “kill my landlord, kill my landlord” and thus you say it. Or you saw an image of puppies being cut up and you thought it was neat so you posted it. And the comments you get back are “neat”, “wow”, “cruel”… If that’s basically what’s being promoted it’s a lousy platform.

3. You leave lousy comments. Okay, this one I’ve touched upon before, but in this instance I’m not talking about people having to write great comments, and I’m not talking about spam. I’m talking about people who leave comments that never address what the topic is about. Sure, some of them might mean well, but if it doesn’t advance the conversation then what’s the point? Of course there are times when one can be funny with a one liner that actually pertains to the content, and if you’ve built up that type of equity with the blog writer then it’s fine. And if I put up one of my Muppet posts I really don’t expect anything other than “I love/hate the Muppets”; course, if you hate the Muppets you’re a cruel person. 😉

4. You don’t at least try to do a good job of writing your blog posts on a regular basis. I think I’ve written only one post in all these years that I should have checked over before I put it out, and that was when I used my Dragon software without going back to read everything. None of us are perfect, thank goodness, but most of us are pretty good. If we invite people into our space the very least we can do is have a nice place for them to sit.

5. Don’t leave “please contact me” comments on blog posts. The only time one can validate that is if the person who owns the blog hasn’t given you any contact information anywhere else, and if you as a blogger hasn’t put an email address somewhere on your blog so people can contact you, do it now. I have this type of thing happen to me all the time when people want to write guest posts or contact me for some other reason, but I have an About page on every blog that has at least an email address that you can reach me at.

6. If you read any of the “page” information that people have let instructions on make sure you read it if you have any questions. Of course most people will say they don’t have questions, but sometimes they do. If someone has written a comment policy it probably means you should read it if you’re thinking about leaving a fake name or one of those keyword names to see if the person whose blog it is likes that sort of thing. If not, you may find your comment gone or that you’ve irked the blog writer.

7. Let me expound on the “information” part of pages. I have a high number of people that want to either write guest posts for me or buy advertising on my finance blog. I created a page where I tell people which email address to write me at AND to use my name; if my name isn’t in the email it tells me you didn’t read what I had to say. It’s very simple to follow, and any time I get an email without my name on it I just delete it without reading it. Could I be missing something? Yes, but if you don’t stand by your standards then why have any?

8. By the way, if you’ve written any “pages” that you hope people will see, at least make sure they’re understandable so you don’t confuse people. There shouldn’t be any question as to how you want people to act in your space if you’ve taken the time to put something together.

9. Be nice. So far I’ve popped on some things I don’t like. Just asking, but in saying what I’ve said, have I been anything but nice? I always figure there’s a way to get a gripe across and still be nice. One doesn’t have to be too forward. One doesn’t have to use bad language. One doesn’t have to name call. Yeah, there are things that irritate me, but anyone you meet will tell you I’m a nice guy and, in my own way, a straight shooter. When I work directly with people in more of a coaching or training role, I give them options of things to do and my belief on the consequences of those actions rather than just tell them what to do. If someone asks me an opinion and I know they’re going to disagree (yeah, I often already know that) I’ll rarely be forward and tell them that, unless it’s the only way to get them to leave me alone (here I’m talking about things like religion; don’t go there with me). I want to be treated nice and courteous, and Dr. Phil says you teach people how to treat you by your actions. Yes, I watch Dr. Phil. lol

10. Guest posting; give your best and then try to give something different. I just wrote a guest post for someone I know locally. She said I could write on anything. I took a look through her blog to see the types of things she wrote about, then I wrote this post titled Why I Call Out “Isms”. One of her passions is the rights of others, and I tend to agree with her on this. In my mind one doesn’t “mail in” a guest post. You give it your all, try to turn it into something you might not always do for yourself, and go that extra route. I hope you check it out to see what I mean. It’s a topic I might write about here every once in awhile, but it’s not the type of post I’d write here; at least I don’t think it is.

And there you go; I bet you thought I wouldn’t be able to come up with 10, did you? So, share your thoughts, as always; after all, if I didn’t want to hear them, I wouldn’t put them out there.

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